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Orange County Itinerary

Pub Scouting in Fullerton : BY BENJAMIN EPSTEIN

Pool, cigars, jazz are among the finds on a night out in the cozy downtown.

May 01, 1997|SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The great thing about a pub crawl in downtown Fullerton is that the pubs are actually within crawling distance of one another--though most people prefer to walk it. Just keep in mind that at evening's end, somebody has to drive home.

EVENING 1

Once a sports bar, Downtown Bar and Grill has been radically spruced up. But the atmosphere is still conducive to just hanging out: It's got what surely must be the longest bar in Fullerton, about 60 feet, and an adjoining room offers four pool tables and a jukebox.

The band starts at 9:30 p.m. on weekends; a late-night menu is served 11 p.m.-1 a.m. "When the diners go home, the diners' kids come in," observed one devotee. Free coffee and soda is offered to designated drivers.

DINNER 2

"Snugness, not smugness" is a credo at the Olde Ship. It's British-owned and -operated, and British frequented. Most clients are regulars; it doesn't take long to become one. The bar offers two dozen brews on tap, including Belhaven Ale and Woodpecker Cider, and 18 single-malt Scotches. The prints on the walls are of, you guessed it, old ships.

All these pubs offer quality food, but none quite like this: On the restaurant menu are bangers and mash, Scottish bridie (beefsteak and onions in Scotch whiskey sauce, baked in a pastry), and fabulous steak and kidney pie (each $7.95). In the bar, try the Scotch egg ($3.95), a hard-boiled egg inside breaded sausage served with marinated onions and condiments including Daddies Favourite, The Family Sauce.

AFTER DINNER 3

An amazing number of barhoppers stop in at Red Cloud, a cigar shop and lounge featuring a Native American motif, a tobacco bunch hanging from the ceiling, a large chess set and a zealous salesman.

"I can tell you guys are connoisseurs. Here--buy this!"

But that cigar is $13.25!

"So what?"

So Red Cloud just happens to be one of the most expensive cigar shops in the county. Some cigars can be had for under $5, but a premium cigar such as the Partagas No. 1, which elsewhere can be found for $6.95 (or less), sells here for $11.25. And the severely premium Partagas 150 Signature, prohibitive anywhere, at Red Cloud is a whopping $34. "For something you're going to light on fire?" a Mulberry Street regular commented.

NIGHT 4 5

Heroes features 101 tap handles, each with a different beer, all listed overhead on four chalkboards. Choices recently included 3-Finger Jack Hefedunkel, Old Foghorn Ale and the incredibly refreshing Wyder's Pear Cider. (A mug of domestic is $2.75, imported $3.75; liters $5-$7.)

Heroes is your red-and-white-tableclothed, peanut-shells-on-the-floor kind of place. Every inch is crammed with antlers, signs and vintage photos. No ties here; more like black socks and tennis shoes. Lots of cigar smokers crowd the street-side patio.

The thirty- and fortysomethings hang out at Mulberry Street, open since 1984. It's more upscale and, yes, more expensive--though a late-night menu includes entrees, such as pasta marinara, starting at $5.95 (a side order of one meatball, $1.95). Live music Fri.-Sat., 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

LATE NIGHT 6

Steamers Cafe offers live jazz every night. It's a great place to wind down--and the perfect place to start out the next time. Look for neon twinkle lights on the outside, paintings of jazz legends by Michele "Mama" Morgan on the inside. The menu features panini (grilled sandwiches, $6.45-$8.45). A dozen espresso drinks include the hazelnut mocha-flavored Steamers Cafe ($3.25); there's also beer and wine.

There's usually no cover charge (a rare exception is a pair of afternoon [Cinco de Mayo] shows by Poncho Sanchez on Sunday at 1:30 and 3:30; at $12 still a bargain) but a two-drink minimum per person per set may be requested during entertainment hours.

Because of limited seating, it's sometimes necessary to share a table--a great way to meet other jazz fans.

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